Sometimes Silence Is A Really Good Answer
Years ago, I attended a Management seminar, and the female presenter shared a story about the power of silence. She talked about learning how to communicate more effectively with her husband, explaining that she used to get so frustrated with him whenever she asked him about committing to doing something or going somewhere. She would present the opportunity, and then expect him to answer yes or no within a short period of time. When he didn’t speak, she would ask him again, and his answer would always be NO. After years of this, it came to her to try applying a well-known sales technique that she often taught: After the ask, be silent!
Everyone processes information differently. Just because there is no discussion, does not mean there is no thought or movement about the subject. And as a general rule, men often take more time to process information, and really weigh out the options, before committing. When she tried this out with her hubby the first time, she said it was almost unnerving because he was literally silent for 2 and a half minutes. Many times, she had to stop herself from interjecting, or becoming impatient. But in the end, it paid off. After his internal deliberation concluded, he said, Yes…I think that sounds like fun! Let’s do it.
The issue was never that he wasn’t interested in doing things she suggested. It’s that he wasn’t given the space he needed to process the question. So when he was interrupted for a quick answer, his go to was NO.
I’ve never forgotten this anecdote, and it has served me well in many situations. Being a quick processor, and a “try anything once” kinda gal, staying silent often feels like torture!! But I have found that when I do practice patience, and allow the silence to speak for itself, ALL my relationships strengthen. I’m allowing energy to do the heavy lifting. I’m also allowing others the space to come to their own conclusions (a much needed skill as a coach!), as we all have the answers within. We sometimes just need a supportive presence to coax it out.
Where can you use the power of silence in your relationships?